Kirkjuvagr to Kirkwall: The Early History of a Danish/Norwegian and Scottish Royal Burgh and a Study of its Royal Charters.
by Spencer J. Rosie, Self-published in 2023.
Kirkjuvagr to Kirkwall tells the early history of Kirkwall and puts its development into the context of the growth of towns and cities across Europe in the early Middle Ages. Kirkwall’s status as a royal burgh is closely examined, highlighting the fact that the status of becoming a Scottish Royal Burgh, granted in a charter by King James III in 1486, was not one of creation but a confirmation of rights previously held under the Kings of Norway and Denmark. The text of the 1486 charter is carefully explained by dividing it into ten thematic sections.
There is a particular focus on the gifting of St Magnus Cathedral to the burgh, the attitude of church officials to this unusual gift and the on-going relationship between burgh and church authorities. There are separate chapters devoted to each of the three royal charters granted to Kirkwall in 1486, 1536 and 1661, and a comparison is made with other Scottish royal burgh charters.
A brief summary of archaeological digs in Kirkwall is given and many aspects of burgh life are described.
This book will hopefully give the reader an understanding of Kirkwall’s long past, the importance of royal burghs in Scottish history and the powers given to these burghs. The reader will also come away with an appreciation of the most enduring legacy of Kirkwall’s royal charters – the preservation and community ownership of St Magnus Cathedral.